I wanted to make a delicious birthday cake for the longsuffering man that chooses to live with me – which, believe me is not much fun for him at the moment as I’m incredibly tired and moody, waddling around (pregnant) and doing a lot of COMPLAINING. The other day I cried because of about 28 different things. They were ALL very important. Oh dear.
Anyway…cake makes everything better, doesn’t it? As you can see, my motives weren’t entirely selfless. I wasn’t sure about doing a great big lump of sponge smothered in buttercream during the heatwave we’re having in London. I thought N might like summat a bit fresher and less likely to greasily melt everywhere. Our blackberry brambles in the garden have literally just gone beserk, heaving with fruit, so I thought about making an almondy cake and putting some berries in it. I think almonds are essential in any fruity cake, they add a lovely mellow flavour and their texture ensures that the sponge is never dry. You could also use raspberries, blueberries – any kind of berry I reckon.
If you’re out and about picking blackberries, remember to grab them above the height that a dog or fox can wee – you don’t want the low-hanging ones. And always give them a good old rinse as they can be a bit SPIDERY. Bleurrrrgh!
I think the result wasn’t half bad – and the cake got eaten very quickly. Very nice with a blob of cream or creme fraiche on the side. It was great for breakfast, as that’s the time of day we ate it!
Come HITHER and eat me:
Serves 6 – 8
You will need:
125g slightly softened butter (I always use organic salted)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (this is a really really nice Fairtrade one by Ndali that I have just discovered! Amazing flavour.)
120g golden caster sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange or lemon
3 large organic eggs
150 g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g ground almonds
A couple of handfuls blackberries to sprinkle on top
Flaked almonds – a handful
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and pre-line a 23cm cake tin. (I don’t think it would matter too much if your cake tin was smaller – the cake would just rise a bit higher, but keep an eye on the baking time).
Using an electric whisk (or a hand one) beat together the butter, vanilla extract, sugar, orange/lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Separate the eggs and mix the yolks into the cake batter one at a time, until well incorporated.
Add the flour, baking powder and ground almonds to the mixture, whiz together.
Clean your whisk beaters, get a spotlessly clean bowl (metal is good if you have it) and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then gently fold them into the cake batter using a large spoon – take care not to squash everything around too much as you’ll lose the air in the whites.
Tip the mixture into your lined tin and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool down on a rack before peeling the greaseproof paper off it.
The unbaked cake batter: